‘It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,’’ said the Queen presently. ‘‘What would you like best to eat?’’
“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now, and very comfortable.
-The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
After reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, many of us grew up dreaming of having a round box of our own, filled with delicious Turkish Delight. Of course, we didn’t know what it tasted like, but if Edmund craved for more, it must’ve been good!
But, when we finally received a box of store-bought Turkish Delight for the first time, we found ourselves with a mouthful rubbery candy tasting of rose. Oh, the disappointment! And we went away thinking how horribly cruel of our favourite story to raise our hopes.
It was only the other year as I stopped through Dubai, that I picked up a box of Turkish Delight from the airport because of the beautiful box it was supplied in. One little nibble turned into a devoured box, and I realised we’ve all been eating the wrong sweet. True Turkish Delight, known as lokum, is made with only sugar, cornflour, cream of tartar, and water as the base recipe. Turns out, the commercial versions we’ve been eating are made with glucose syrup or gelatine. And they couldn’t taste more different.
Engine Akin states in his book, Essential Turkish Cuisine, that the perfect lokum ‘can only be produced expertly only after long years of apprenticeship, should be soft enough to chew effortlessly yet should not stick to the teeth’.
While the whole ‘apprenticeship’ made me doubt whether making true lokum was possible, a recipe by Felicity Cloake from the Guardian made it happen. And fortunately for us, she worked her way through numerous Turkish Delight recipes and came up with one that will give you the true soft Turkish Delight experience Edmund had. I’ve adapted Felicity’s recipe and added notes below, but her article on Turkish Delight is worth a read as she walks you through the variations in recipes and ingredients.
Meanwhile, I had originally posted a recipe for Turkish Delight using gelatine a few years ago, however since making this authentic version, I’ve since removed the post. The taste between the two recipes is that different, I can only say, take the time to make this authentic version.
- 380g / 1.9c white sugar
- 455ml water
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 95g/ ¾c cornflour
- 150ml water
- 1 cup pistachios
- ½ tsp rosewater essence (or 2-4 tsp rosewater)
- a drop of rose food colouring
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Butter or oil (for greasing)
- a bowl of cold water
- Start by buttering a square casserole pan measuring 20cm by 20cm.
- In one
medium sizedsaucepan, pour in the white sugar, cream of tartar and the 455ml of water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- While you let the sugar come to a boil, in another saucepan, (same size or slightly smaller) stir together the cornflour and 200ml of water. Note: do not start mixing this cornflour mixture until after you've finished stirring the sugar. If you start the cornflour too soon, the mixture will clump together into a large mass and won't dissolve properly later.
- Whisk the cornflour and water until it's a smooth paste, then add it straight away to the sugar mixture.
- Whisk the cornflour mixture into the sugar syrup over medium heat for a minute or two. Once the sugar mixture comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low.
- Grab a wooden spoon (and a seat) and continue to stir continuously in the same direction for the next 40-50 minutes. You'll know the mixture is ready for testing when the sugar mixture is thick and clearly pulls away from the edges of the pan.
- Scoop a little bit of the mixture and drop it into the cool water. The mixture will stay together but is very soft to the touch.
- Pour in the flavour first, then the rose colour. Stir for another minute
over heat, then turn off the stove. Stir in the pistachios and scoop the mixture into the casserole dish.
- Use a spoon to spread it out, then leave to cool on the counter.
- Sprinkle icing sugar onto a cutting board and onto the top of the
- Turn the Turkish Delight out onto the board and use a long sharp knife to slice, sprinkling icing sugar over the knife between each cut to keep from sticking.
- Sprinkle more icing sugar over the Turkish Delight to coat before serving.
- Turkish Delight can be stored in a container at room temperature with a cloth dishtowel over the top.
*Prep your ingredients before you start.
*Continuously stir. It's not as difficult as it sounds-- the time goes quickly!
Turkish Delight recipe adapted from Felicity Cloake's The Guardian article https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/dec/10/how-to-make-the-perfect-turkish-delight
Want more nostalgic recipes from children’s literature? You might also like: